Preseason, yes, but Bulls encouraged
But Bulls still have their reasons to be encouraged
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The story of the Bulls' preseason seems relatively simple: Derrick Rose is playing well, so the entire team looks good.
The Bulls have rolled to a 4-0 record so far, despite missing at least one starter in every game. The return of Rose might be the most significant news of the NBA season. Beyond that, though, the Bulls have shown that their tall, versatile lineup has some strong potential.
It's only preseason, though, so there's no reason to get worked up about it. Preseason means nothing, right?
"We could easily say it. I think we deserve to say it, with all the hard work we've been doing in training camp," Rose said after Wednesday's victory over Detroit. "Every day we're just doing everything Thibs (coach Tom Thibodeau) wants us to do and really giving this team our all. Even though it's preseason, we're still building."
Taj Gibson agreed with Rose: It's OK for the Bulls to feel good about how they've played in the preseason.
"We're clicking," Gibson said. "We're doing great. Everybody's been having a great preseason. That's what (Thibodeau) said, he just wanted us to have a great preseason, run with it and regular season just go."
The Bulls did not practice Thursday and return to action Friday against Indiana at the United Center. Here are some observations about the 4-0 start:
•It's easy to see why the Bulls targeted Mike Dunleavy in free agency. He may not bring instant offense from the bench like Nate Robinson or Kyle Korver, but he brings a variety of skills. Dunleavy has made just 4 of 12 attempts from 3-point range, but he has been a strong rebounder and passes the ball as well as anyone on the team.
•Gibson was serious about summer improvement. After Wednesday's game, Gibson is the team's second-leading scorer at 15.5 points per game (a shade behind Rose's 16.0). He's also averaging 9.5 rebounds and shooting 65.8 percent from the field.
"The only thing I know about Taj is if he practices well, he plays well," Thibodeau said. "He is currently our best practice player."
•Rookie Tony Snell moved up in the rotation because Jimmy Butler sat out Wednesday's game with a bruised knee. Snell made the most of it, producing 12 points, 4 assists and 3 steals. He gives the Bulls another tall 3-point shooter to throw on the floor.
"I'm picking up offensively," Snell said after the game. "I feel I'm doing really great defensively, and that's all that matters at the end of the day. I know my offense is eventually going to catch up to my defense. As long as my defense is fine, I'm good."
Rose made a point of being aggressive against Detroit. He pushed the pace, attacked the basket and got to the foul line 10 times in 22 minutes. If there's a fault to Rose's return performance, he has just 8 assists in three games.
After the game, Rose said he's glad to beyond the worrying state of his knee rehab.
"The biggest thing after you have an ACL injury is the mental part," Rose said. "For me not to think about anything no more and actually react to the defense and the offense, it feels great. Knowing that I'm safe. I don't have to worry about anything at all.
"Even if I go to the hole and get contact and fall any type of way, I can easily get up, bounce right back and play the way I normally know how to play."
Asked again about his claim to be jumping 5 inches higher than before the ACL tear, Rose took on doubters when he said, "I just didn't show it yet because there's no need to."
That's right. It's only preseason.
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